Year-over-year taxable retail sales in Thurston County fell nearly 8 percent in the first quarter of 2009, according to state Department of Revenue data released Wednesday, a sign that South Sound consumers remain guarded about spending freely amid the slower economy.
The drop marks the fifth consecutive quarter in which Thurston County’s year-over-year taxable retail sales have fallen, Revenue spokesman Mike Gowrylow said.
Statewide, taxable retail sales fell nearly 13 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, the data show.
Spending related to construction, motor vehicles and building materials fell more than 20 percent statewide. Similar factors contributed to a drop-off in taxable retail sales in the county. Retail sales in the county generated by sales of building materials, for example, fell more than 24 percent in the year-over-year first-quarter period. Overall, the taxable retail sales data in that period show:
Thurston County: Fell 7.89 percent to $847.1 million from $919.7 million
Olympia: Fell 9.08 percent to $370.2 million from $407.2 million
Lacey: Fell 9.40 percent to $222.6 million from $245.7 million
Tumwater: Fell 8.10 percent to $92.08 million from $100.2 million
Yelm: Fell 4.96 percent to $35.5 million from $37.4 million
The state Department of Revenue also reports a narrower category of taxable retail sales called retail trade, which the state agency considers to be a better measure of consumer purchases.
The retail trade data show:
Thurston County: Fell 8.46 percent to $414.4 million from $452.7 million
Olympia: Fell 13.61 percent to $188.3 million from $218 million
Lacey: Fell 6.06 percent to $125.6 million from $133.7 million
Tumwater: Fell 4.25 percent to $42.7 million from $44.6 million
Yelm: Rose 4.69 percent to $19.5 million from $18.6 million
NEW DEALER DOING WELL
Although taxable retail sales in Olympia generated by sales of new and used cars fell sharply in the first quarter, business is off to a strong start at Premier Motors Northwest, a seller of used luxury vehicles that opened this year at the Olympia Auto Mall.
In its first full month of business, Premier sold out its inventory of 15 cars, general manager and partner Ron Wynne said Wednesday.
“This is good because it tells me people are more than ready for another option in the auto mall,” he said.
Although Premier might have bucked a recent trend in consumer spending, taxable retail sales generated by new- and used-auto dealers fell 29.5 percent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009.
In Lacey, year-over-year first-quarter taxable retail sales generated by construction fell 27.6 percent, the data show. The state releases the retail sales data about three months after the quarter has ended.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403